The world’s cell-based superstars are set to go head-to-head as the battle for spreadsheet supremacy kicks off at the Microsoft Excel World Championships.
Following a stellar debut last year, ESPN has once again picked up the spreadsheet tournament to show as part of its annual “The Ocho” event, with coverage starting at 7am ET/9am PT today, with highlights later shown on YouTube.
Sponsored (unsurprisingly) by Microsoft, and part of the Financial Modeling World Cup (FMWC), last year’s broadcast of the “All-Star Battle” proved a surprise hit, with more than 800,000 people apparently viewing the entire two-and-a-half hour competition on YouTube, with ESPN broadcasting a 30-minute edit.
This year, the stakes have been raised, with traditional Excel-based puzzle solving and trickery ramped up with an added threat of elimination.
Participants will be given a “case” to solve, which will demand knowledge and expertise of a wide range of Excel skills to finish. As the FMWC website notes, “the game tasks will be testing your Excel and logical thinking skills. No previous knowledge in finance, engineering, data analytics or any other industry is necessary.”
This could be anything from election modelling to random number generators and even working out how to best navigate an Excel-based videogame level – all accompanied by live commentary by Excel experts.
Competitors will of course need to know their way around a formula and have excellent coding skills, as well as an encylcopaedic knowledge of Excel shortcuts and tricks – but as the FMWC website notes, “anything is allowed, and the strategy is up to you.” All the questions/cases “will be solvable by a general MS Excel user,” the FMWC rules state, and users of older versions of Excel (2010 and up) should be able to complete them.
The competitors have 30 minutes to answer a series of questions worth up to 1,000 points, and the person with the most points wins. However as mentioned, this year adds an extra motivation to work fast, as the player with the fewest points will be eliminated every five minutes.
Amazingly, the event is now only a part of a wider season of Excel competitions, one event of many leading up to the Microsoft Excel World Championship Finals in Las Vegas in December, where a total prize fund of over $15,000 is up for grabs.
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